E-Cigarettes and Associations

Loura K. Sanchez | Monday, December 16, 2013 | Community Associations Miscellaneous

The Wall Street Journal recently ran an article about "10 things E-Cigarettes Won't Tell You" and two things stuck out for me, a non-smoker.  First, "We can't promise this won't kill you."  As we know many associations are moving towards prohibiting smoking in common areas and in condominium units and one of the reasons is the second hand smoke impact on health.  If e-cigs have fewer toxins than regular cigarettes as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention concede, do they still carry the risk to non-users and thereby justify a ban by an association?  The second "thing" that struck me as concerning is "E-joints and e-crack-pipes are new e-cig."  If you live in a state that has legalized marijuana on any level (recreational or medical) but your owners are concerned about the smell, could an e-cigarette with the liquid form of TCH be the solution?  I think you might be able to require its use as a "reasonable accommodation" solution for medical use? Any thoughts?

Comments

Before the popularity of e-Cigarettes or the legalization of recreational marijuana, we have successfully required medical use marijuana be administered through a medical device and not through smoking. Such as a nebulizer which is really what a e-cig is.

Obviously, associations need to get on the ball and adopt some rules pertaining to e-cigarettes, and the use (in any form) of marijuana. If associations have the right to control smoking in common areas, does this apply to outdoors? I would tread very carefully in trying to control any type of smoking outside. (Inside is a no-brainer.) Is smoke exhaled from inside one's body into the air something that an association can even control legally? I mean the outside air is not a common area, under any definition I've ever read. Just because something bothers someone else, or is alleged to be dangerous, does not necessarily mean that an association must control it. Doesn't the affected person have the ability to move away from the smoke or odor? Furthermore, it seems we need some guidance in the form of definitive medical studies from the scientific community as to the effects of second-hand marijuana and e-cigarettes. It seems at this time that we are lacking this. Like many other issues, I suppose we will have to wait for the courts to make rulings that might apply across the board, but that will take years. I understand that some folks want something done RIGHT NOW. Never discount that the reason many folks want rules on any type of smoking is because they simply want to control other people. There are those folks who would control every aspect of their neighbors' lives if given the chance. I suppose we could be like the government, and simply over-regulate, but I am not a proponent. Why can't people just speak up if something bothers them, or if they have a health issue, instead of expecting some "big brother" to make rules or laws that apply to everyone at all times. Who wants to live in a world like that? Next thing you know, we'll be banning chewing gum. Now, I also know that associations can pass rules for those areas which it owns that are more restrictive than governmental regulations and laws. So, maybe some associations just want to ban the smoking of marijuana altogether, except in cases of medically-necessary and reasonable accommodations for a known condition. And, of course, as always, any rules should reflect a community's character, and should be adopted only following sufficient opportunity for input from owners. Here's a funny one. Several years ago, I received a call from a resident saying that her neighbor was smoking pot on the patio, and that I should do something about it. My response was "Just a minute. Let me look at the association's rules." A few seconds later I said "Oh, I don't see that this violates any rule adopted by the HOA, so there is nothing I can do about it." I suggested calling the police. But today, I would advise that board to adopt some rule or policy, either banning or allowing that activity (and under what circumstances), although it's not really something that I, as a manager, am anxious to enforce.

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